Date: May 1989 (Revised June 1996)
Source: University of Wisconsin
The boiling water bath of processing method may be used to can fruits, tomatoes and pickles. The temperature of boiling water is high enough to destroy the bacteria, enzymes, molds and yeasts that cause spoilage in acid foods. However, this method does not provide high enough temperatures to destroy botulism spores in low-acid foods like other vegetables and meats.
Water bath canners are available in discount and hardware stores. You may use any large metal container that is deep enough so that at least one inch of briskly boiling water will be over the tops of jars during processing. The container should have a tight-fitting cover to help keep water at a rolling boil during processing. You need a perforated rack to keep jars above the bottom of the kettle and to allow water to circulate freely around jars. A flat bottom canner should be used on an electric range.
You can use a steam pressure canner for a water bath, if it is deep enough. Cover, but do not fasten the lid tightly. Leave the vent open so steam can escape and so pressure does not build up inside the canner.
Fill the water bath canner with enough water so there will be at least one inch over the tops of jars. Heat the water while you prepare and put food in jars. Prepare only one canner load at a time. Most boiling water bath canners will hold 7 quarts or 7 pints. While these are processing, you can prepare another load.
Start counting processing time when the water in the canner returns to a full rolling boil. Keep the water boiling throughout the processing period. As the water evaporates, add enough boiling water to keep it one inch over the jars. Process the required length of time. Do not cut processing time. Some pickles may be processed with a low-temperature method.
Additional information on this topic is included in the Extension bulletin HE-174, "Home Canning of Fruits," which is available at your county office of the NDSU Extension Service.
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